Florida law limits injured worker’s lawyer’s fees, but not employers’ or Insurance company lawyers’ bills

As a member of the Florida Bar, I keep up with legal developments in the “Sunshine State.”  At Abrams Landau, Ltd., we have represented many clients who are residents of, or were injured in, Florida.  Tort Reform in 2003 limited the amounts that could be charged by the injured workers’ legal counsel.  However, this “Tort Deform” did not limit how much money the insurance companies and employers could pay their lawyers.  This 5-year-old law severely limits the abilities of plaintiff’s lawyers to recoup fees even for cases they win.  There are no limits to what defense lawyers can charge, and their fees are NOT contingent upon the outcome !

This law is currently being challenged by the case of Murray vs. Mariner Health.  The injured workers lawyer successfully won benefits previously denied his client, Emma Murray.  The injured worker was a nurse who was injured while lifting a patient.  Nurse Murray’s lawyer put in approximately 80 hours in order to win the case, yet his fees were limited to about $650.00.  The claimant’s lawyer took on the case, risked getting nothing if he lost, and, after winning, got paid about $8.00 an hour.  Do you think any defense lawyer would work on a contingent fee case for $8.00 an hour ?  The case is pending before the Florida Supreme Court.  Because the case involves a state administrative law system, it can likely not go up to the United States Supreme Court, of which I am also a member.  I hope for the Florida workers compensation claimants’ lawyers’ sake that the state Supreme Court changes this unjust law.

One response on “Florida law limits injured worker’s lawyer’s fees, but not employers’ or Insurance company lawyers’ bills

  1. Terry O'Riain

    In NSW, Australia we have similar laws where the indemnity for costs is limited in certain claims for plaintiffs but not defendants lawyers. As costs follow the cause then then there is no ceiling on what the plaintiff may pay the successful defendant whereas the plaintiff only recovers a fixed amount. This was a condition of our tort deform. Funnily enough in the statutory scheme for workers compensation the costs are definitely fixed on both sides but with a severe restriction on the benefits. Embarrassingly for the statutory authority it took an administrative law case to the Court of Appeal that arose from workers compensation. The authority’s senior & junior counsel and the solicitors were very angry when it was realised they would not be paid because the limit for costs in that jurisdiction was $6000.

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